Vascular Burden Score Impacts Cognition Independent of Amyloid PET and MRI Measures of Alzheimer's Disease and Vascular Brain Injury

Charles DeCarli, Sylvia Villeneuve, Pauline Maillard, Danielle Harvey, Baljeet Singh, Owen T Carmichael, Evan Fletcher, John Olichney, Sarah Farias, William Jagust, Bruce Reed, Dan Mungas

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Background/Objective: To determine the impact of vascular burden on rates of decline in episodic memory and executive function. We hypothesize that greater vascular burden will have an additive negative impact on cognition after accounting for baseline cognitive impairment, positron emission tomography (PET) amyloid burden, and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) measures. Methods: Individuals were followed an average of 5 years with serial cognitive assessments. Predictor variables include vascular burden score (VBS), quantitative brain MRI assessment, and amyloid imaging. Subjects consisted of 65 individuals, 53% of whom were male, aged 73.2±7.2 years on average with an average of 15.5±3.3 years of educational achievement. Results: Baseline cognitive impairment was significantly associated poorer episodic memory (p < 0.0001), smaller hippocampal volume (p < 0.0001), smaller brain volume (p = 0.0026), and greater global Pittsburg Imaging Compound B (PiB) index (p = 0.0008). Greater amyloid burden was associated with greater decline in episodic memory over time (β= -0.20±0.07, p < 0.005). VBS was significantly associated with the level of executive function performance (β= -0.14±0.05, p < 0.005) and there was a significant negative interaction between VBS, cognitive impairment, and PiB index (β= -0.065±0.03, p = 0.03). Conclusions: Our results find a significant influence of VBS independent of standard MRI measures and cerebral amyloid burden on executive function. In addition, VBS reduced the amount of cerebral amyloid burden needed to result in cognitive impairment. We conclude that the systemic effects of vascular disease as reflected by the VBS independently influence cognitive ability.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)187-196
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Alzheimer's Disease
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2019


  • Alzheimer's disease
  • cerebrovascular disorders
  • cognition
  • neuroimaging

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Geriatrics and Gerontology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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